Huddersfield Bridleway 231 – Nether Moor Farm

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Well played to the Huddersfield Planning Sub Committee this afternoon who approved the report to recognise this route as a bridleway rather than a byway. At last some clarity on the matter. You can watch the item on the council’s webcast  here

The contrast between the public spirited supporters of the bridleway who wish to achieve something for everyone to enjoy and the speakers against the proposal says it all really.

A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

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Public Footpath Dean Wood,Hepworth.

I’m not walking anywhere near a thousand miles on my little local journey but I am walking every path in the parish of Holmfirth over the coming year. There are over 200 individually numbered public footpaths,bridleways and byways in the Holme Valley which are available for public use and enjoyment. They form a wonderful public asset which ought to be properly valued,protected and maintained.

Legally each path should be signed where it leaves the public road, be free of obstruction and maintained to a level suitable for the expected traffic. Many will never need any maintenance or have any problems. Some paths will require an obstruction removing or some form of basic maintenance at some point but it is not rocket science as they say or a particularly  expensive task. Structures such as stiles and gates are the liability of the landowner whereas the surface,signing and duty to remove obstructions rests with the local council.

It’s an interesting time to be walking the rights of way network in this way. At the moment there is huge pressure to build just about anything anywhere in the valley as our bankrupt council tries to stitch the hole in it’s corporate pockets with developments which will yield the council tax and business rates it needs to secure its fix of other people’s money. Secondly it is some five years now since the council slashed its maintenance budget for public rights of way in an early attempt to rid itself of a liability it never really liked anyway. It will be interesting to see how the lack of any planned works such as annual strimming and signposting have affected the network over this time.

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More assault course than footpath. Two fences back to back with two broken stiles.

 

When the council ditched public rights of way five years ago it had a backlog of some 4,220 known maintenance and enforcement issues recorded on its system. How has five years of “austerity” affected this number?  It may be that the fabled “Friends of everything the council used to do” group has stepped up to the mark  and things are hunky dory but I have to admit to never having any confidence in the councils only cunning plan for public rights of way.

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New security gate in front of farm gate. Feel welcome?

In the past month I’ve walked about 20 paths some of which are completely problem free,some have minor problems and a significant proportion have serious issues making them difficult or impossible to walk. Overall there’s a sense of neglect with many of the relatively recent public footpath signs erected by the council in a poor state of repair or missing. A large number of stiles are unusable due to a lack of maintenance and as ever there are new problems as landowners start to take advantage of the powers that be not really giving a toss.

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Squeezed between barbed wire fence & beck. Council have “no timescale” to put this right.

 This is a great area for walking. It’s very accessible by the local kirklees population particularly via public transport and it seems a false economy to neglect such a valuable asset in this way. We all know that if the wind blows a slate off the roof you need to replace it without delay or run the risk of the roof coming off altogether. I think it’s fair to say that with a backlog of 4,220 known problems 5 years ago the roof could be described as coming off back then and it was perhaps a false economy to ignore this. The highways budget has been stable at around £16 million give or take over this period so it is not as if the council could honestly say it had no money for highways.  They just don’t want to spend money on this type of highway. It’s going to be an interesting journey.

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Prickly path

 

Washpit Mills Holmfirth

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Almost choked on my fish fingers at tea time when I read in the local rag that this over the top planning application for Washpit Mills had been knocked back by the planning inspector.

The consultation process ended in April this year and the impatient developer chose, mistakenly, to go to appeal rather than wait for Kirklees to cogitate and come to a decision.  Rather amusingly the clearly peed off developer is quoted as saying “I have no idea what’s going on,I really don’t know what you have to do to get something approved by Kirklees Council” Might be time for a change of direction job wise mate!

There is a public right of way right through the site but not one recorded as yet on the Definitive Map. In typical developer’s style the route was blocked off as soon as the site was acquired so my sympathy for the hapless developer is …well..zero to be honest. But it’s a nice start to the weekend.

 

Langley Lane Denby Dale Bridleway 102 Update

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Both Denby Dale Parish Council and Kirklees Prow Unit have objected to the planning application at Emley Lodge Farm which is accessed by over 900m of bridleway.  Kirklees Prow make excellent comments which I reproduce below. It’s to be hoped this strong defence of the bridleway by Team Prow is not blown away by a comedy back pass in the dying moments of the game as in the last outing at Bartin & Greaves. Let’s hope they’ve been working on that on the training pitch and any stray requests for resurfacing are despatched to row Z where they belong!

Many members of the public and user groups have been in touch with Patch Watch and have also objected in an effort to protect this quiet bridleway.

Kirklees Council have a disclaimer on the planning page which states

Since 1st August 2011 we haven’t informed interested parties, objectors or supporters of applications, in writing or by site notice, of the relevant planning committee date.

This of course is appalling but  it is the sad reality of how a democratic process is being weakened by our caring sharing council. They are only too keen to build build build now but  have no thoughts for  the regrets which will surely come later.

What this means is that sad people like me with too much time on their hands have to check each dull agenda for the relevant planning sub committee and flag up what’s on the horizon. So do keep an eye out for future posts on this blog about Langley Lane.

Here’s that Kirklees Prow objection.

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Emley Lodge Farm, Off Langley Lane, Emley, Huddersfield, HD8 9QS
Conversion of redundant former storage building to form one dwelling
PROW objects to the application as made.
Bridleways are a precious and scarce commodity in Kirklees, as identified in the council’s Rights of Way
Improvement Plan.
1 The submissions refer to improvements to Langley Lane and footpaths being retained to encourage pedestrian
journeys by residents, yet there don’t appear to be any proposals detailed anywhere in the application. Could we get
some idea of what the proposals are from the applicant? PROW may expect that improvements would be necessary
to the public bridleway and perhaps to local footpaths.
The application form indicates “consolidated gravel” proposal for the “vehicle access”, and provision of passing
places, but no details of what or where this applies.
2 It is not mentioned anywhere in the submission that Langley Lane is a public bridleway. It would be important for
us to know the nature of any proposed works to this public way, whether they are proposals from the applicant or
works that officers would suggest. The lack of information about the effect on the public bridleway and its users, on
the route being proposed for access to the property, may be considered to be fatal to the planning application as
made, as it largely ignores this material consideration.
3 PROW would not want to see the tarmacing of any of the public bridleway, as it is undesirable both in terms of
surfacing and expected increased vehicle speeds. It would be helpful if this was noted in any consent to ease future
management of the public bridleway.
4 There don’t appear to be any traffic assessment figures provided to clarify the claims in the submissions that traffic
increase from the development will be offset by decrease in agricultural vehicle movements – particularly as the
building is identified as “redundant” and “former”, so presumably its proposed change would not affect any current
user. Intensification of use of the bridleway by motor vehicles would have a negative effect on the bridleway use
and should be carefully assessed by the planning authority.
A relevant PROW footnote regarding obstruction/interference of the public bridleway Denby Dale 102 should be
included if any consent is given.
A scheme for the protection of the bridleway and its users should be required by condition, including submission,
agreement, implementation and retention, with appropriate staged triggers.
Planning consent does not authorise any works in the public highway, including public rights of way. Separate
consent should be sought from the local highway authority.
2
Temporary closure of public rights of way would require formal authority, usually with separate application, cos

Ramsden Road

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More of a rock climb than a walk

Where to begin on this one? Let’s start with what it is. A byway open to all traffic (Holmfirth 180). This means walkers,riders,cyclists and motor vehicles have a right to pass along here. Might be worth mentioning who is responsible for the maintenance of Ramsden Road too. Well as it is recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement it is publicly maintainable by the local Highway Authority which is Kirklees Council. I can hear your groans and cries of despair dear reader but I’m just telling it like it is.

Clearly the surface of the byway is very much out of repair and hasn’t seen any maintenance of any kind for a long time,if ever. How has it got into this state? Well it would be very easy to blame 4×4 users who the byway is very popular with but I don’t think that would be fair. As a walker I’ve walked on many badly eroded footpaths where the damage has been caused by boots alone. So I’m not going to chuck the first stone of blame in the direction.

Many years ago before Ramsden Road was in this dire state but had the beginnings of these problems  there was a popular suggestion  to put a traffic regulation order on the byway which would have either stopped motor vehicle use or limited it at certain times of year. Sadly the idea was shot down in flames by local councillors who would hear none of it. The rest as they say is history and we are now left with this assault course of a byway.

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No not the famous Holmfirth Lido

It is still up to Kirklees to manage the traffic on Ramsden Road and keep the byway safe and in a condition suitable for it’s expected traffic which on the face of it doesn’t seem too challenging. However it is obvious from the neglected drains,culverts and extensive damage that the byway has been left to deteriorate and the public can take their chances when walking there.

What can be done? Path Watch has asked Kirklees to carry out some urgent emergency repairs to the worst affected sections of standing water and erosion. In the short term all that means is importing some local stone to put the surface back into a safe condition. They can then have a think about what to do in the longer term.

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Neglected cross drain

The byway has a good drainage system of ditches,culverts and cut offs which require reinstatement and of course the surface needs extensive repairs. This could be carried out over a period of time and need not break the bank.  What ever excuses come from Kirklees there is no getting away from 1. They are responsible and 2. lack of resources is no defense. Putting corporate fingers in their ears and singing LA LA LA loudly just won’t cut it.

Reports about  condition of Ramsden Road ,Holmfirth Byway 180 should be made to highways.ross@kirklees.gov.uk

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Kirklees most expensive Cd’s Huddersfield Byway 231 The Album

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Regular readers will recall the long saga of Huddersfield Byway 231. As a result of Kirklees engaging Leeds City Council to carry out historical research into the status of the Byway I now have the 2 most expensive CD’s in my collection. Five grand of council taxpayers hard earned money for these and obviously that didn’t include a decent album cover.

You might have thought our caring,sharing council would have let interested members of the public have this information as soon as it was available,given they paid for it but no a rather churlish email was sent out stating no information would be released prior to the committee report.

So I’ve dragged the hapless bureaucrats through the freedom of information process which is painful for both sides due to the prevailing culture of secrecy and disdain for the public which characterises Kirklees and today received my 2 CD’s worth of historical information.

I am aware that Leeds City Council have discovered “something” not previously found but there’s a lot of information here.

I’d like to share this information as widely as possible before the Committee date which may be as soon as 23rd November 2017 so that interested parties can form a view untainted by the powers that be as it were.

Please get in touch via the blog or Facebook if you’d like a bootleg copy. Might be worth something in the future, you never know.

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Who let the dogs out?

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Well I can’t say I wasn’t warned

The local rag and Facebook are carrying stories of a heavy handed  private company stalking the streets of Holmfirth on behalf of Kirklees and issuing fines to those who don’t have Rover on a lead or anyone with a dog lead over 2 metres long. Out on the public footpath network other dog owners go unpoliced placing signs on public footpaths in an apparent effort to deter legitimate access and warning of dogs “running free,” not on private property but the public highway.

A few yards beyond the gate above I heard a bleep and realised I’d set off some kind of warning alarm in the house this footpath passes. Fair enough wanting to know who’s about in such an out of the way place I suppose but a little further on as I neared the house a door clicked open and out ran two dogs barking and growling in the way they do when they’re revved up.

They weren’t on leads. They weren’t even with anybody who could hold the other end and they came charging full pelt towards me. Oh dear.

I was in no man’s land. To far from both the gate behind and the one in front. But I had my dog (on a lead) so spun around and shoved him between me and them ! This made my two pursers hesitate and back off enough for me to reach the exit gate by walking backwards on one side of a weird dog sandwich.

But who let the dogs out?

 

Peak Park comes up trumps on Holmfirth Bridleways 68 & 189.

 

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Pleased to report that the Peak District National Park have written to Yorkshire Water (Keyland Developments) regarding the woeful resurfacing works on Holmfirth Bridleways 68 & 189. Whilst clearly constrained by planning law and the hapless actions of Kirklees the letter is a positive response to the concerns of the many users who have contacted the park on the issue and is in stark contrast to the complete lack of action or interest from our council. The letter was copied to me and I reproduce most of it here.

I understand that you are the surveyor at Keyland who has been dealing with the works to the Holmfirth public bridleways numbers 68 & 189, which serve the buildings at Greaves Head and Bartin.  You will be aware that the National Park Authority  has recently dealt with planning and listed building applications for proposals to reintroduce the residential use of the houses.  All four applications were refused at the Planning Committee on 13 October (please see this link for the Committee reportshttps://democracy.peakdistrict.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=132&MId=1591&Ver=4 ).

My  purpose in writing to you is to express my concern at the works that have been carried out to the track which serves these buildings.  I should say that the works are likely to be “permitted development” and would not require planning permission under Part 9 of the General Permitted Development Order 2015, which allows improvement and repair works to tracks, so we do not think that there has been a breach of planning regulations.  I am also aware that you have received permission from Kirklees Council, as Highway Authority, for the works.  I understand that this was subject to agreement on the precise stone to be used in the surfacing works.  Notwithstanding this, we have received several complaints about the extent and appearance of the work that has been carried out, particularly the colour and size of the surfacing material, which is very light and fine textured, giving an inappropriate compacted appearance covering the whole width of the track.  Given that this is a popular bridleway in a relatively wild area, these works are out of keeping with the appearance and enjoyment of the area. 

I have been advised that the works were carried out either by or on behalf of Yorkshire Water, but that you may have been involved; I do not have a contact at Yorkshire Water so I would be grateful if you would let  me know who I should contact if it is not you.  I think it is important for me to say that the works to the track do not change the National Park Authority’s position regarding the principle of  re-introducing a residential use to Greaves Head and Bartin, as the reports to Planning Committee should make clear.

Finally, I would ask that you or Yorkshire Water consider carrying out works to reduce the harsh and inappropriate appearance of the track following the resurfacing works. 

Holmfirth Bridleway 68 & 169 – “Nothing to see here now run along” response from Kirklees

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The grey concrete style stone blending in nicely.

If like me you contacted Kirklees Council this week about the resurfacing of these bridleways with a “sandstone” that has the appearance of concrete you’ll have received a classic fob off email this afternoon. It’s taken from the Kirklees Infinite Book of Excuses “Easy ways to avoid answering tricky questions” chapter. Basically select one thing you are right about and ignore everything else.

In my case I had checked with the Council about the surfacing material which looked like a dry concrete mix. The appearance is so convincing the Council had to take a sample and get reassurances from Kelder Group which included a receipt from the quarry. I never mentioned the bridleway being concreted in my email. And had clarified that point on here.

I still got this email answering a question I hadn’t asked

This email is blind copied to recipients. Thank you for contacting Kirklees council.

The Council received reports earlier in the year from the public, regarding works to the above bridleways, undertaken on behalf of the landowner. Council officers concluded that the works were inappropriate and that further work would be required. The contractor had permission from Kirklees PROW to carry out more recent works, laying a top dressing over parts of the bridleway. The specification for the recent surfacing material was 20mm to dust sandstone aggregate. Council officers have confirmation from the quarry that this is what was delivered. The specification agreed with the landowner did not include agreement to add cement, and the contractor undertaking the works for the landowner states that none has been added during the surfacing works. We have samples of the surfacing material from the site, both before and after the works.

This email is copied to officials at Peak District NPA, who have been contacted by some of you.

The “jog on pal” response ignores the questions I asked…

  1. As kelder Group have not used a local stone can the council ask them to remove all the limestone and grey stone from the bridleways?
  2. Can the Council advise Kelder Group that no further works are to be carried out on the bridleways without a full consultation with the peak park and user groups?
  3. I also highlighted the poor standard of work, the leaching of the grey stone onto adjacent land and the fact that the bridleways were not out of repair.

There’s a quarry about a mile away which could have  supplied a local stone which when weathered would match what is on the bridleway. Tingley quarry is 20 miles away and obviously produces a different quality of stone in terms of colour and texture. It simply does not fit the sensitive environment it has been placed in.

Kirklees were on the ball with their robust response to the planning applications but have  managed to snatch  defeat from the jaws of victory with the attitude taken towards these awful resurfacing works.

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The bridleways original condition

Kirklees seem to think Kelder Group are an altruistic organisation who completely out of the blue wish to resurface a public bridleway at their own expense. Meanwhile back in the real world most of us can put two and two together and see the works for what they really are. An attempt to improve vehicular access to Bartin & Greaves Farms in connection with two recently refused planning applications which may yet go to appeal.

It’s no surprise that Kirklees sides with those wishing to take advantage of public property for  private gain. It’s much easier than doing things properly  and I suspect far less scary for them to send out a “Round Robin” email to concerned members of the public telling them to get lost rather than challenge a private company.